The Yoga Sutra—profound, perfect, and deeply rooted in the wisdom of the sages—has long been regarded as the final authority on yoga philosophy and practice. Grounded in experiential knowledge, it is a practical guide on how to attain the inner radiance and eternal joy that the great masters declare to be our birthright.
In The Practice of the Yoga Sutra: Sadhana Pada, Pandit Tigunait gives us a clear message: by unlocking the hidden power of Patanjali's eight rungs ofyoga, we can transcend the stress and challenges of day-to-day life and experience our full human potential. Here for the first time, we find insight into rare master practices that are exclusive to the 5,000-year-old living tradition of the Himalayan Masters. Sharing his own experience gained through decades of advanced practice, Pandit Tigunait shows us how the wisdom of the Yoga Sutra is the gateway to infinite possibilities, leading us to the highest promise of yoga—lasting fulfillment and ultimate freedom.
PANDIT RAJMANI TIGUNAIT, PHD, is a modern-day master and living link in the unbroken Himalayan Tradition. He is the successor of Sri Swami Rama of the Himalayas and the spiritual head of the Himalayan Institute. As a leading voice of YogaInternational.com and the author of 15 books, his teachings offer practical guidance on applying yogic and tantric wisdom to modern life. Over the past 35 years, Pandit Tigunait has touched innumerable lives around the world as a teacher, humanitarian, and visionary spiritual leader.
We are aspiring beings. The desire to be better, happier,. healthier, more beautiful, and more powerful is inherent in all of us. When this desire dims we begin to shrink, and when it dies we are human in name only.
Normally people believe desire is bad, and further, that desire grows as we grow. But the enlightened masters see the force of desire in a different light. According to them, desires have made us what we are today—we grow in response to our growing desires. There are as many desires as there are stars in the sky. Some are negative and others positive. Some feed our subhuman behaviors while others motivate us to identify and embrace the divine self.
Yogis divide the entire range of desires into three categories: sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic. Sattvic desires are illuminating. They imbue us with enthusiasm, courage, and indomitable will, inspir-ing us to discover and embrace the purest and most delightful part of ourselves. Sattvic desires are the agents of our continuous transformation. In their presence, we exude self-confidence.
Rajasic desires pump us up with nervous energy, making us scattered, anxious, and full of doubt. Rajasic desires leave us perpetually dissatisfied and impel us to seek and embrace short-lived sensory pleasures. In their presence, we are not happy with what we have and chase what we do not have, only to drop it for something else.
Tamasic desires cast a veil of inertia over our enthusiasm, courage, and willpower. In their presence, we become fatalistic and lethargic—we find it pleasant to sink into a stupor.
The minds of ordinary people are dominated by the interplay of these three categories of desire. We become exceptional when we free our mind from this interplay and train it to embrace only illuminating desires. This training is yoga.
Patanjali's Yoga Sutra is the most complete text on the philosophy and practice of yoga. It consists of 196 sutras divided into four chapters: "Samadhi Pada," "Sadhana Pada," "Vibhuti Pada," and "Kaivalya Pada."
Patanjali, one of the greatest yogis of all time, distilled the wisdom and experiences of thousands of masters and compressed them into these 196 sutras. With the passage of time, scholars and practitioners expounded on this text. Among these outstanding commentators, the sage Vyasa has long been recognized as the final authority on the intent and content of the Yoga Sutra. Following in the footsteps of the tradition, and in conformity with the prompt-ings of my heart and the practice I adopted in writing The Secret of the Yoga Sutra: Samadhi Pada, I have treated Patanjali's Yoga Sutra and Vyasa's commentary as one in the pages that follow. As con-firmed by my own experience and the experiences of generations of practitioners, when we study and practice what this classic text contains, we gain the same experiences as those who came before us.
As we saw in The Secret of the Yoga Sutra, at the outset of "Samadhi Pada," Patanjali shares the ultimate yogic insight: the mind is the greatest of all secrets, and mastering the mind and its roaming tendencies empowers us to attain victory in both our inner and outer worlds. Patanjali considers yoga and samadhi, the absolutely peaceful and inwardly focused mind, to be synonymous. In "Samadhi Pada," he delineates a plan that we can adopt to train our mind and free it from its self-defeating habits. He tells us that a disturbed and confused mind cannot lead us to victory in either the worldly or spiritual realms. Only after we have acquired a clear, calm, perceptive, and discerning mind are we able to differentiate essentials from non-essentials and set a goal for achieving lasting happiness. In the first chapter, Patanjali emphasizes the need for purifying our mind and turning it inward, where it has the opportunity to bathe in the luminosity of the divine being. This is enlightenment. An enlightened mind is free from all fear and doubt. It neither grieves over the past nor is anxious about the future. It stands still, enjoying its union with the divine. This is samadhi.
"Samadhi Pada" is written for those who aspire to nothing short of samadhi. It is for those who know that life is much too precious to be consumed by the charms and temptations of the world. How-ever, the second chapter, "Sadhana Pada," is for those of us caught in the day-to-day struggles of life. For most of us, samadhi is a far-fetched dream. We are so consumed by the reality of pain, sorrow, fear, and grief that the urgency to overcome it supersedes all spiritual pursuits. This chapter, then, is for most of us.
Here, in "Sadhana Pada," Patanjali describes a systematic approach to yoga practice. It begins with the acknowledgement of a harsh reality—pain—and goes on to remind us how entrenched we have become in the habit of denying that we are in pain until we are engulfed by it. Ours is a culture that views pain as a physical condition and encourages us to cure it by swallowing a pill. Even though most of us know pain also has a deeper, emotional dimension, we fail to recognize that treating sorrow and emotional torment is as urgent as treating physical pain. We shy away from exploring the deeper dimension of pain and its crippling effect on life as a whole. Yet this exploration is precisely what is required if we are to live the life of freedom and joy to which all of us aspire.
The Sanskrit word for pain and sorrow is dukha. This broad term includes the most familiar forms of physical pain as well as fear, grief, depression, dementia, and every other condition that causes us to experience life as burdensome. Pain in any form drains the vitality of our body and mind. It disconnects us from our innate sense of beauty and goodness and hampers our ability to enjoy what we have and what we are.
In "Sadhana Pada," Patanjali charts a succinct and straight-forward plan to transcend pain and embrace lasting happiness. He divides his plan into four parts: acknowledge the dynamics of pain (heya); discover the root cause of pain (heya-hetu); identify the state in which there is no pain (hana); and apply the tools to reach that state (hana-upaya).
In the process of explaining the pervasive nature of pain and sorrow, Patanjali demonstrates that disease and old age do not walk into our lives alone. They are always accompanied by carelessness, denial, attachment, and unbending likes and dislikes. This battalion of inner enemies creates an environment of confusion, fear, and doubt, which quickly becomes a breeding ground for anger, hatred, jealousy, and greed. These enemies damage our power of discernment. Our clarity of mind plummets. Our mental faculties become so dull they no longer efficiently guide and govern the systems of our body. This is how the subtle dynamism of pain upsets the internal ecology of our body and mind, setting the stage for disease and old age.
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